Black and White in the Botanic Gardens

My friend Sara and I went shooting at the US Botanical Gardens in the beginning of March. It was a while since we last shot together, almost five months! Since last seeing her, she's moved into a new apartment and started a new job in Washington, DC.


I've never self-developed a roll of black and white medium format film before, so I've been hesitant to shoot any black and white rolls out of my medium format cameras. I was in the mood for shooting black and white, so I took the plunge, loaded the panchromatic film into my camera and told myself to worry about developing it later. One of the photographers I admire has said the phrase, "Shoot first, think later," and it has been stuck in my head.


I brought the medium format Bronica SQ-AI and 80mm PS f/2.8 lens, and loaded the back with Ilford HP5+. Usually if I'm shooting 35mm, I'll rate for 1600 and push two stops, but I kept these medium format rolls at box speed, 400. The Zenzanon 80mm PS f/2.8 never ceases to amaze me. I couldn't ask for any more image quality from this lens.


The US Botanic Gardens is a neat place in Washington, DC. Like other DC attractions and museums, you can just walk in without needing to buy a ticket or pass. I especially enjoyed the arid climate garden. The cacti and other desert succulents are very interesting looking and quite uncommon to see without visiting a TexMex restaurant. In the center garden, there are catwalks you can walk on that traverse along the greenhouse. The views from the catwalks are awesome, but after a few steps onto the platform, you start to feel like a warm plant going through photosynthesis.. 

Shooting Graduation Photos!

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of shooting grad-photos for my friend, Sara. She may seem familiar as she is the subject of many of my digital portraits.

For the shoot, I brought along my Canon 6D, 70-200mm f/4, 50mm f/1.8 STM and my Yongnuo 560IV flash/Wescott Rapid Octa Box lighting combo. The weather was partly cloudy, but with bursts of sunshine every now and then. This kept lighting pretty simple, as I could use the Rapid Octa Box to fill in shadows and let the soft, cloudy light do the rest of the work.

Wind was a bigger issue than I was expecting.. Besides messing up hair, it ended up tipping my lightstand over! Luckily, the Yongnuo flash was just left with a few scuffs. I neglected to bring sandbags and used my backpack filled with miscellaneous camera gear and bottle of champagne to weigh the lightstand down. Unfortunately, I had the backpacking weigh down the wrong leg when a strong gust of wind knocked the lighting equipment over.

The 70-200mm f/4 is probably one of my favorite lenses of all time. It's also the only Canon EF mount lens I currently own besides the 50mm. The 70-200mm f/4 contains a lot of great focal lengths found in prime lens such as 85mm, 100mm and 135mm. The white zoom lens packs all of these together with image stabilization.

While editing, I noticed that my strongest images were made with the three-quarters view. Perhaps poses are easier with the three-quarters view because more of the frame is covered, for example, in a typical "hands at your side" pose. There's more space to be filled in the frame by the background if I shot the same pose with a full-profile perspective. I really enjoyed the middle photo in the first set of images above (Sara's back facing the camera), even though that was framed with the full-profile perspective. I think the compression at 175mm and her pose where she's holding the Oxford cap fill the frame quite nicely.

A Week in America's Caribbean: St. Thomas

It's been over a month since my end-of-school-year vacation to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We spent a week on the 31-square-mile island, visiting beautiful beaches, indulging in absolutely delicious food, sleeping in a fantastic apartment, and praying that our Yaris won't fall off a cliff (if it makes it up there in the first place).

Here's a selection of photographs I shot on my X100T that I enjoyed (and before you ask, yes, I brought my camera into the ocean once or twice...)

My photography has been piling up on me.  I've got a few 6x6 frames I need to touch up in post, still need to finish a roll of Portra inside my TLR I loaded back in St. Thomas, and 35mm negatives from a waterproof disposable camera that I need to scan.  I'll get them up eventually... after all, vacation isn't really over yet ;)